October 20, 2020

Ellen G. White on a Treadmill

As far back as I can remember, my mother has always played an active role in serving within both the Juniors and senior Sabbath School classes. I have fond memories of her teaching the little ones while attending Riverside Seventh-day Adventist Churchin Cape Town, South Africa.

When I was 10 years old, we relocated to the northern suburbs and began attending Kraaifontein Seventh-day Adventist Church in Cape Town. As a young child, I thoroughly enjoyed attending Junior Sabbath School. I also remember my mother teaching us about the early church reformers during one quarter. Every Sabbath, our childlike minds would be amazed as my mother would teach us about John Wycliff, John Huss, Martin Luther, William Miller, and Ellen G. White. I was particularly intrigued by tales of the Waldensians. 

During my Pathfinders Club years, we touched on the teachings of Ellen G. White, but I do not have any specific memories of anything profound that I learned. What seemed much more fun for me as a teenager was to attend Pathfinders classes, do first aid and semaphore, and go hiking and camping. Quite frankly, many years went by and I never really had any particular interest in reading the writings of Ellen G. White. I read books like Steps to ChristandThe Desire of Ages as a teenager, but mainly due to these books falling under the banner of “required” readings.

Paul states in 1 Corinthians 13:11 that when he was a child, he spoke and thought like a child, but when he became older, he put aside childish things. I could resonate with this particular verse because, as I transitioned into my twenties, I started maturing cognitively and spiritually as well. I moved on to reading other books by Ellen White, such as Child Guidance,Patriarchs and Prophets, and Prophets and Kings, among others. This time it was my choice and not merely a requirement. 

In my twenties, I read about a quarter of The Great Controversy,but I needed a dictionary to understand a lot of the author’s lexicon. Eventually, I simply gave up reading this book. In 2019, however, I began rereading The Great Controversy. I coupled my readings with listening to particular podcasts fromLightBearers, The Reformation Series, and Table Talk. 

For some years, my general interest in watching movies and series had declined. I preferred listening to and watching sermons, which would edify my mind. On my morning drives to work, I would always have a sermon playing, or a lesson by Hope Sabbath School, or 3ABN. It is imperative for me to connect with God every day, and I'm very intentional about doing this. I love filling up my mind with information that is cognitively and spiritually edifying.

At the beginning of the 2020 lockdown in South Africa due to COVID-19 regulations, I made a personal decision to try to get through as many Ellen G. White books as possible. I would read a few passages now and then; sometimes, I would get onto my treadmill and listen to the audio versions. Whenever I went grocery shopping, I had my headphones on, and most of the time, I would be listening to an Ellen G. White audiobook.

During the lockdown, I had to transition to online teaching, along with many other educators. I took the opportunity to continue having short personal devotions with my students before commencing each lesson. I would usually share what I have learned. I also shared my own experiences regarding my walk with God.

With regard to my students, I don’t think that it is very wise to spend an excessive amount of time focusing on the writings of Ellen G. White, as I am not a theology lecturer. However, in my psychology modules, I would briefly weave in something from her writings, which would somehow link to the lesson’s topic.

I believe that we are blessed to have books by this great author. It is imperative for us as Seventh-day Adventists to empower ourselves with the knowledge found within the pages of Ellen G. White’s writings. While I can never tell people, especially my students, what to do, I can share snippets of what I have learned, and I can share how enriched my life has been since I started on this journey.

The original version of this commentary was posted on the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Echo.